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Special delivery: Hawks win
Three-point weekends don't come much tougher in the NHL.
After rallying for a tie Saturday night in Carolina, the Blackhawks returned home Sunday and held off the punishing San Jose Sharks for a 3-2 victory before another sparse crowd at the United Center.
"This was a big man's game," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said. "You have to be able to respond to it."
The Hawks did, withstanding a furious third-period assault by the Sharks before 11,384 fans.
San Jose outshot the Hawks 19-4 in the final 20 minutes and 36-21 for the game. The only other time the Hawks were outshot this season was in the opener at Columbus, and the margin then was 33-32.
"We need a game like this," goaltender Jocelyn Thibault said. "We just played desperate hockey in the third. Both teams might have deserved to win, but we came out on top."
Special teams accounted for all five goals. The Hawks began the night with the second-worst power-play percentage in the NHL, just 10 percent. But Sutter has talked about how much better the power play has been in each game, even if the results hadn't indicated as much.
Sunday, matched against San Jose's third-from-the-bottom penalty killers, the Hawks scored three power-play goals. Sergei Berezin had the first two in the first period, his team-leading third and fourth goals of the season, and Tyler Arnason nudged home a rebound of an Alex Zhamnov shot in the second period.
"Two good games for us," said Berezin, who scored 11 goals all of last season.
"How we scored on the power play tonight is why we got Sergei," Sutter said.
On his first goal, Berezin was streaking down the left wing when Steve Sullivan fanned on a pass from Steve Thomas. The puck went right to Berezin, who buried it past San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
The second came on a two-man advantage when Arnason put a perfect pass on Berezin's stick for a tap-in.
Mike Ricci scored short-handed early in the second to bring San Jose within 2-1, but Arnason scored his second of the season later in the second. Vincent Damphousse batted a pass out of midair to give the Sharks a power-play goal early in the third.
Thibault said San Jose "came hard. We just shut the door. We worked real hard."
The Hawks killed four penalties in the third period. Thibault was strong twice, stopping Patrick Marleau late and taking a wicked shot from Teemu Selanne off the right shoulder.